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Selective citation.

When VRG's Food Service Advisor spoke at the School Nutrition Association Conference, the audience mostly wanted to know what vegetarian products had "CN labeling" (contribution toward USDA meal pattern requirements). Many were surprised to learn TVP (texturized vegetable protein), a common meat extender, is vegetarian. Most had never used tofu.

Recently, a vegetarian activist encouraged us to do more selective citation--that is, only picking nutrition studies that are positive about vegan diets and focusing on those rather than giving a whole picture. We understand this perspective. As with the food service staff above, most people just need the basics and simplicity.

We realize that telling your audience what they want to hear is the way to be popular and earn the most supporters. However, we believe that working towards a less violent world means helping people to develop a holistic view and understand other sides while encouraging them to still hold to their own beliefs.

There are negative and positive articles about vegetarianism in the media. It's important to appreciate these studies in context, as we report in our Scientific Updates (page 12). Consumers also need to grasp that nutrition is constantly evolving. If anyone says, "This is the absolute truth," whether pro- or anti-vegetarian, you can be sure it probably isn't. Life is about continually learning and evaluating.

When we report about individual studies, we are looking at one study. When a VRG dietitian co-authors a document such as the American Dietetic Association position paper on vegetarianism, she and her colleagues synthesize a massive group of studies--some conflicting--within a larger framework, and they make recommendations based on the current science. Each time the paper is revised, the recommendations are going to change somewhat. There are always limitations to--and inherent biases within--studies, starting with what is selected to be studied.

What's important to know is, if you want to be vegan, it can be done simply. It's a matter of figuring out what works for you. If you are vegan for health reasons, what you do today may change tomorrow and be different for another person.

According to Reuters (July 3, 2006), the CEO of Whole Foods Market, Inc., pledged $10 million for supporting locally grown food. Whole Foods will make long-term, low-interest loans to small farms, especially producers of grass-fed beef and organic pasture-based eggs.

After not finding certain vegan items at our local Whole Foods, we spoke to the store's buyer, who told us that distributor storage space limitations and distribution in general are the problem. Perhaps Whole Foods can dedicate resources to resolving this issue, which is keeping vegan products out of their stores.

Though people want simple answers, life is full of contradictions. Today, please be nice and give support to a person, group, or business that has made a positive contribution to society, get some exercise, and put aside time to laugh. Happy eating!

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler

Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group
COPYRIGHT 2007 Vegetarian Resource Group
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Note from the Coordinators
Author:Stahler, Charles
Publication:Vegetarian Journal
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Words:489
Previous Article:Nutrition hotline.
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